got any spares buy or sell tickets ticket touts stuart deabill zani 1.

It's heard all over the country at various Stadiums, Venues, Theatres, Racetracks etc., and has been for a good 50+ years.

My fascination with the art of touting started through a mate of my dad's who always had tickets for any event and was treated with a certain type of respect. Fantastic stories of making a double carpet from a night up the Albert (Hall) or serving a mini bus of Yanks front circle for the Palladium, just before the filth were on top. I know I watched too many Minders but he definitely had that aura and suss that marked him out. Also a Burberry trench coat, Bakers boy hat and Bass Weejun loafers that made him look like he'd stepped straight out of a 60s movie.

As I started heading out on my own to gigs and football, the swarm of similarly dressed fellas at the really big events huddling round the tube station entrances, turnstiles and the cabs offloading loudly offering briefs for the day's event looked like something to be, almost glamorous. Most people thought them to be a monumental pain in the arse but for me it looked like it beats working in a factory or warehouse being tormented by some fat boss. Over time, I got to know a couple of them as I'd see them at the same spot on the Fulham Road when CFC finally got their act together and were back in the big time mid 80s. You couldn't give tickets away two years previously. I used to get them the odd punter and they'd recognise me and getting a nod or "Alright son, going Sheff next week?" was enough to make you feel like you were part of some secret society.

/got any spares buy or sell tickets ticket touts stuart deabill zani 2.jAnyway, 25 years on, one of these chaps is now a good friend and has kindly allowed me to interview him for AFTN as long as I change his name.

AFTN: How did you first get into touting then?

John: My uncle had a fruit and veg stall in Shepherd's Bush Market and used to trade all sorts of stuff. You know, knock off currency, once sold a greyhound that raced that night at White City. All a bit Del Boy. Anyway, he had some briefs (tickets) for Shirley Bassey at Talk of the Town and asked me to tag along.

AFTN : What year was this?

John: Gotta be about '72, as I was 13.

AFTN: What exactly did he get you to do?

John: Not a lot really, but I think he wanted to show me how much could be made at this game. I was a bit of a demon on the stall and I loved the whole pitch of shouting, selling and taking money. Proper buzz. Bit of a show off I suppose.

AFTN: So can you remember how much your uncle made?
John: You're joking, he wouldn't tell me but he did give me a tenner for helping chat the punters. Good money then as I'd only get a fiver for working 10 hours on the stall.

AFTN: So that ignited your career then?

John: Yeah, through him I started helping a bloke called Davie and he really clued me in on how to make a good living. I left school at 15 so fucked my exams off but i was earning good money then. Not only that, I was shit hot at maths, and I could read a punter before they'd even opened their mouth so getting an O Level at Woodwork was the last thing on my mind.

AFTN: So where did you first work and obtain tickets?

John: A lot of early mornings queuing up in allsorts of fucking weather. Stones and Led Zep at Earls Court were big ones. Remember getting three of my mates to come down with me as they were only doing two per person and having to bung them an amount. Even then, they wouldn't stop moaning about how cold it was. I suppose all I could think about was the dough. But mainly it was just working the venues grounds with a few quid in your bin and buying spares off people and then selling them on.

Stones and Led Zep at Earls Court were big ones
AFTN: Where were the best places to work back then?

John: Arsenal was always my favourite, as I knew the girls in the box office, so they always sorted me great seats. Loved doing the Albert Hall, love the grandeur of that gaff. Had a contact there as well. The beauty of working with Davie was that he fucking knew everyone. He was a real charmer, immaculate, women loved him and he used to extract dough when you thought it was long gone. He taught me how to treat people, but not to take shit. So many spivs get the arse with punters and fuck people off but you're in the wrong game if you're impatient.

AFTN: That's how I found you – you were always polite. Quite rare.

John: I saw one tout grab a woman by her lapels one night 'cos she changed her mind about 18 times on the price. No good to anyone. Brings it on top for us all.

AFTN: Which begs the question, ever been nicked?

John: Lifted loads of times, then let go where the promoter's gone mad as the gig's far from sold out, but only prosecuted once. All over some C*** passing me snides over a fucking David Essex gig.

AFTN: An occupational hazard of your trade then? The Jekyll brief.

John: Yes and no. You know me, wont touch 'em. I know who's making them usually and have a sixth sense for it. They're always well under the market value of said item, and then they only come out for big games, events.

AFTN: And David Essex.

/got any spares buy or sell tickets ticket touts stuart deabill zani 5.jJohn: Rock on.

AFTN: So you must have been threatened a few times over the years by pissed up fans desperate to get in?

John: Yeah, but I always get rid of my gear early doors so it's rare you'll see me after 2.30 at a game. England V Scotland was always a mare, "Gis a ticket otherwise I'll put the nut on ya" – all that shit. But as I've been doing this 35 years all over London, I've dealt with all the main faces at football. Tottenham aside, I know Black Willie and Des at Chelsea, some of the ICF lot, and Dainton (Arsenal) god rest his soul. Trouble don't really happen for me mate.

AFTN: You say London, but you've been around the world working haven't you?

John: Yeah, Winter Olympics, Grand Prixs, countless Barca V Real Madrids, World Cups, Ashes in Oz...

AFTN: All earners?

John: Mostly, Last World Cup was hard work. Got let down at the last minute on a promise of 30 tickets off a former player. They were already sold through my mate's agency so I had to bully people, contacts, to make it up. Managed it with a day to spare but was lucky if I made 100 quid in the end.

AFTN: How many wives, girlfriends has it cost you over the years?

John: Fack off, what's that got to do with it? You know, two wives.

AFTN: Hard to keep up with your lifestyle?

John: Well first one loved the dough, but I was never there. In pursuit of the crack and the buck. Second one was pretty understanding and I wasn't as manic but it's hard to get your head round. You had to be on the ball, 24/7. I mean, I've slowed up a bit and obviously the internet's changed everything so you've got to be lucky rather than clever these days.

AFTN: Not a fan then?

John: You know what I think son. These two-bob student cunts with a credit card, pushing up the demand, straight on eBay who have no clue what they're buying. Made the last few years very difficult. You see these mugs come down to Wembley for say The Arctics with six tickets that they wanted 60 quid apiece which haven't sold. Then they're in tears when you offer them a tenner for the lot.

These two-bob student cunts with a credit card, pushing up the demand, straight on eBay who have no clue what they're buying
AFTN: It's an art that most people find hard to understand, isn't it?

John: Most defiantly. We go to work to get the maximum potential for our stock. Just like the City boys right? And when kids moan, "what disgrace you ripping off the fans" blah blah I get the right hump. It's all a blag. Most of my tickets used to come from players, club staff, promoters, event organisers ripping off their own events.
One band from Manchester were fucking murders for touting their own briefs. Caused many a ruck with all those blaggers.

AFTN: Mid 90s band, two brothers?

John: Definitely Maybe?

AFTN: How do you get on with other touts?

John: Do my own thing, have worked with a few over the years but I'm my own boss. The Northeners like to do the T-shirts and posters and all that shit. Seen so many come and go over the years. I did love Scouse Kenny though. He was fantastic company, though he did like the young birds.

AFTN: I heard about Prince at Wembley Arena when he was swapping tickets for Blow Jobs? Any truth?

John: Yeah, fucking lunatic.

AFTN: Right come on then, best single earner for one event?

John: Michael Jackson – Wembley Stadium, 1985. We had over 400 tickets from someone in the box office.

AFTN: Jesus, they were fetching 5 times face value.

John: Put it this way, paid for a holiday to Seychelles for a month.

AFTN: Do you still enjoy working?

/got any spares buy or sell tickets ticket touts stuart deabill zani 7.jJohn: Not as much, only do local these days. Wembley, Hammersmith, Ascot. Most I do through my mate's agency. Credit crunch has hit us hard, as the companies' budgets for entertainment has been slashed so all the blue chip work has dried up. Also, the price of gigs these days are a fucking joke. Madonna, 180 notes? That's another product of eBay, promoters seeing what punters will pay and charge accordingly. And Arsenal not having paper tickets anymore, these cards. It's hard mate.

AFTN: Finally, would you do it all again or would you settle for a nice safe job?

John: Do it all again, I've seen some amazing things over the years like being at Live Aid's after show to being in the director's box at the Bridge pissed with George Best and Ossie (Peter Osgood). I've done alright out of it, not as good as some, but better than most.

AFTN: Cheers for your time.

John: Put my real name up and I'll have you hurt.

Used by Kind Permission of Stuart Deabill and Away From The Numbers

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